Today, we went in for my final fitting, and by this point, Shannon was beside herself excited to get her boots done. Skiing in the appropriate boot changed my skiing so dramatically, we’re BOTH excited to see what happens when she gets out of the boot she’s in and into something appropriate. Looks like we’ll be coming back to Salt Lake in January!
For my third fitting, I got to pull on the boots with pleasure domes punched out and space for my little toes. WOW. Can I just say? I have never in my life put on a boot that didn’t hurt. This still snugged my foot, but now I didn’t feel like my toes were bleeding inside my boots. A big improvement, no?
Brent did some more grinding to relieve tiny pressure points and really dial in the fit, and then we moved on to the alignment portion of the fitting. This was really amazing. First, he got on the phone with Michael Hickey, my coach, and asked him if there was anything about my stance that he had noticed and that he’d like to see fixed in the boot. I was SO curious to know what Michael had to say, Shannon and I were straining to over hear. Funny, no?
So I’m standing there with the boots flexed as much as I can get them to pull my toes back away from the front of the boot so they don’t touch and hurt, with my knees hanging about four inches over the toes. “So what did Michael say?” I asked.
“Well, he says you have a tendency to over flex, and there is some stuff we can do to fix that without ripping the boot apart, which is expensive and difficult to do.”
The first thing he had me do was to put the power strap INSIDE the cuff, rather than outside. Bingo, still back in the boot, but more upright. Then, he buckled the top two buckles in tighter, and once more, I am more upright. But still comfortable. I was sort of loath to clamp down my buckles because historically, that’s when my feet go to sleep and turn white and then black. But with it cranked down pretty good, I was still okay in there, due to all the shaping and forming he’d done.
So then, I was in my boots with the new foot beds and he put me on a level board. He looked at my stance, fixed the above mentioned issues, and was pleased with the “well stacked neutral stance” that he saw. He then looked at it from the front, and declared me well aligned bottom to top, (thank god SOMETHING is naturally correct!) and then went to work on all my fore/aft issues.
Brent got out a rocker board, which is a board with a little half round dowl on the bottom. He ligned me up on it and had me shift my weight from the back of the boot to the front, to see what my body position did as it compensated for the pressure change from the back of the boot to the front. As I rolled forward, trying to find the balance point on the board, he noticed that my hips drop back and down.
Then, he put a four mm board under my toes and had me try it again. As I went forward, my entire body moved together. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT? Four millimeters. He then took them away from my toes and put them under my heels, and with it exaggerated, asked me if I could feel the difference. It was amazing.
Brent then asked me what kind of bindings and skis I am in, and I told him about Megan’s amazing gift of the Volkl Attivas. He liked the gift, of course, but doesn’t like the Marker bindings for me, especially ones that slide on a rail. He wants bindings that screw directly into the ski for me, and they have to be the same height off the deck of the ski, so there is no ramping other than what he has done to my boots. Apparently the Marker bindings (Which he calls “Hostage” bindings, because you cant’ change the ramp, they are how they are) have a 4-6 mm rise on the heel, which is exaggerating the problem that I’ve been trying to drill out of my skiing!
I am looking at going to the Rossi Z9, and have to figure out what kind of bindings are neutral that will fit on it.
Next, Brent put me in some blue contraptions which were sort of like bindings, with clear marker plates that go up your shins, so he can tell how your bones come out of your boots.
He got me in the binding, took one look and said “Your power turn is your right turn, you are weak on your left side, right?” I just looked at him.
“Brent, that’s kind of creepy that you can tell that, I have to be honest, here.” And his reply? “Yeah, I get that a lot.” I’ll just bet! Of course, he is absolutely right, my right turn is powerful and even, I am a bit scared of my left side turn.
Brent messed with some adjustments in the boot with an allen wrench, a quarter turn here, a titch there, until his level showed me at 0, perfect alignment on both sides. So now, theoretically, there should be NO mechanical disadvantage! If I fail to turn left now, it is ALL ME!
All in all, it was a phenomenal trip, I learned a huge amount about skiing, about gear, about fitting boots, and about what the different kinds of fitting do and how they affect your skiing. I can’t wait to get on them in the morning! For now, we are driving home from Salt Lake in a snowstorm. Gotta get home so we can get to work in the morning!